Train Tot Lapbook

The littlest member of my family is always wanting to "do school". He enjoys it more than anybody in the house, I think. He’s so anxious to grow up! (But I’m not anxious for him to grow up.)

This morning I asked G’tums what was his plan for today and he told me that he was going to make a train lapbook. So thanks to Carissa at 1+1+1=1 blog we made an adorable little lapbook together. The only thing we added was a package of stickers, because he loves stickers. Well, what three-year-old doesn’t love stickers?

G'tums (age 3) with his Train Tot-book

Proud boy with his very own lapbook!

Cover of Train Tot Book

The cover, made from stickers that I had picked up at Michaels.

Inside of Train Tot Book

A better look at the inside: The left-hand pocket has cards with different shapes on them. The middle book has a different colored train on each page, that he colored. The right-hand book is an accordion style fold that counts from 1-10, showing the correct number of trains to correspond with each number.

Here is the direct link to the lapbook: Thomas the Train Tot-Book. Or check out all of her Tot-Books, they’re really great. At least they made one little boy very happy today!

Thanks to Zippy too for the pictures. She loves her new camera.

Tulip Festival

We were very privileged yesterday to visit the Tulip Festival in Mt. Vernon, Washington. It is the first time we’ve ever gone and we were not disappointed. There are over 700 acres of tulips there. What beauty! Here are just a few pictures.

Family & Tulips

A picture of our family after we walked around one field almost all afternoon and had taken 600+ pictures. I’m not kidding! The blessing of digital cameras I guess, is that you can just keep on snapping and snapping and you don’t run out of film or you know you can delete later, so no cost. I just wish I could share tons of them with you, but I picked out just a few. Not too sure if they were my favorites. I think so though. I think we could print a book of tulip pictures now though!


Pretty up close…


…and pretty far away.


One of the very exciting parts of our trip was that Zippy had just received her new camera that she had recently ordered after saving her money for quite some time. She took some of these pictures. She took the one above with the trees in it. I’m proud that she turned out some very fine pictures with her point-and-shoot. She also took the one below so that she could study more closely what the inside of the tulips were like.


We also learned about the tulip from the Handbook of Nature Study pages 552-555. We referred to Zippy’s picture above to see if it was described correctly. It was! Our tulip matched the description.

From the Handbook of Nature Study we learned that tulips originally came from the Orient and were real popular in Persia where they were cultivated as early as 1000 A.D. Eventually they made their way to Europe where everybody fell in love with them, but especially the Dutch. According to the Handbook of Nature Study, the highest price paid for a tulip, during the "Tulipmania" was $1800, but we found a website called Tulip Fever that claimed that the highest price ever paid was by a Turk named Sultan Ahmed III who was beheaded for spending too much on tulips. A head in exchange tulips, I would say, takes the prize. While we read about the tulips the kids added pictures of them to their nature journals.

Tulip--Nature Journal by Zippy age 9 Tulip -- Nature Journal JD Boy age 6
Left is Zippy’s (age 9). Right is JD Boy’s (age 6).

And last but not least, a favorite shot of me and my littlest man. His big brother and sister have been working on making nature journals of the things they observe in the outdoors, so they took theirs out to the tulip fields. He wasn’t to be left out. He proudly took his in his new turtle backpack and at one point just sat down on the road to draw a picture of the tulip fields. It was so cute. He was being such a big kid. Guess I’d better stop gushing though.

Mommy & G'tums in the tulips

We heard that sometimes tulips are exported to Holland from these fields, but I did some looking around on the internet and have found conflicting reports on this. Some say that Holland will not import tulips and that the US imports from Holland. Others say that at some time in the past tulips were exported to Holland from here. Maybe they’re both true. Maybe there was one year that something happened to tulips in Holland, and so there was an exception. I don’t know. Most of the sites said that Holland will not import. All in all, it was beautiful. Now, if we could just visit a tulip festival in Holland!

Blue birds and Bluebirds

Today we did a little more studying about blue birds and bluebirds! That was the second Bird challenge on the Outdoor Hour. Actually it was Jays and Bluebirds, but I thought my title was catchy.

We were able to see bluebirds really well at the grandparents’ house this past weekend and today we read about them and added them to our nature journals. We didn’t find a lot of information about the bluebirds, but we do have to admit that they are really special and we wish they’d come visit us at our house. I had a hard time choosing which photo to post.

Western Bluebird

That photo was taken on Sunday at my parents’ place.

The other blue bird that we learned about was the Steller’s Jay. That is the Jay that frequents our house and chases the birds away from our feeders. We do like the Steller’s Jay because it really is a gorgeous bird, we just wish that it would learn to share. But since around this house, we sometimes have trouble with sharing, guess we shouldn’t complain about the Steller’s Jay.

Unfortunately, even though we’re regularly visited by the Steller’s Jay, we don’t have any photos of them. One of these days. If you’d like to see it, you can visit my favorite online field guide: Steller’s Jay @

The kids illustrated these birds in their nature journals. Here are their illustrations.

Stellers Jay and Western Bluebird Nature Journal -- JD Boy age 6

Stellers Jay and Western Bluebird by JD Boy, age 6

Western Bluebird Nature Journal -- Zippy age 9

Western Bluebird by Zippy, age 9

Stellers Jay Nature Journal -- Zippy age 9

Steller’s Jay by Zippy, age 9

This bird study also included comparing beaks of different birds, which we did. The favorite two to compare were the hummingbird with the Steller’s Jay. Can’t say how much we’re enjoying the bird studies on the Outdoor Hour Challenges.

Old Fashioned Money–Beads

We recently had lots of fun tying math in with our history lesson. It came at just the right time for us too, because two oldest kids were tired of their math books and I was looking for some ways to use some things around the house to teach math concepts and give them a bit of a break from the pencil and paper math books. Then while we were going through our Hands and Hearts kit on early American life, we found a whole section in the manual about how beads were used for trading with the Indians. It told which colors were more valuable. So we set out to do some monetary math with beads.

JD Boy just separated his according to color and counted how many of each color that he had. It was actually quite a tedious job.

JD Boy sorting beads

Zippy sorted hers according to color, then wrote down how many she had of each color and then looked in the guide that was in our kit for how to calculate the value of her beads. I can’t remember what each bead was worth. I just remember that blue beads were the most valuable.

Zippy Counting & Sorting Beeds

Even G’tums wanted to join in, so we pulled out some plastic beads out of our craft box and let him sort by colors. But unfortunately I don’t have a picture of that.

What fun we had! As you can see, we were also enjoying our math/history lesson outside. Ah, bliss! Wish we could do that everyday.

Eventually we’ll turn these beads into crafts, but it couldn’t have been more fun to turn a history lesson into a math lesson. For once my daughter thought math was actually fun. Now I’m off to find some more fun ways of teaching math.

Dipped Candles

One of the fun ways of learning something is doing it! I guess that’s obvious. We’ve been learning about Colonial life and the establishment of the Thirteen Colonies. And we just finished a fun project the way that the Colonists did it. We made dipped candles with beeswax. Fun! Fun!

Finished Beeswax dipped candles

I purchased a kit of fun activities to do a long with our studies of early American life last fall, but we only recently got into the box and did one of the projects. This box was from Hands and Hearts. Unfortunately, they are not currently selling these kits, but hopefully sometime soon they’ll be able to sell them again. However, this project isn’t so hard to do yourself, if you can get the supplies needed. All that was needed was beeswax and a long candle wick and everything else is readily available in your home.

You just take an empty can and fill it about half full with warm water and then finish filling with beeswax. Then place the can in water in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer (not a hard boil).

Melting Beeswax

Then you dip the wicks in the melted wax and then in a can of ice water and just keep going back and forth until you have candles.

Dipping Candles in ice water

Dipping Candles in Wax

This was a very fun project, but we all agreed that turning on a switch and even changing light bulbs periodically was a bit easier than this!

Robins & Housefinches Nature Study

We’re really excited that the Outdoor Hour Challenges right now are about birds. Birding and learning about birds is one of our favorite things around here. In fact, in a few weeks, we’re heading to a bird sanctuary for a few days to see what we can see. Can’t wait!

This weekend we spent some time at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. We ended up staying longer than anticipated and without any books. So we thought, the weather is nice and we need to do something educational, and I’d already looked through the bird challenges on the Outdoor Hour Challenges blog, so I looked through them a little better and we headed out to see if we could find the birds in the challenges. And my husband took out his special toy–his new camera. We were very thrilled to find the two birds from the first challenge that live in our area. (No Cardinals. Boo hoo. I used to live in the Midwest and I love Cardinals. I wish my kids could enjoy them like I used to.) We also found birds in the second and third challenges too, but we’re going to learn a bit more about them before we post.

So here are the birds from the first challenge:

American Robin

American Robin trying to keep warm in the early morning.

American Robin

American Robin wondering where he’ll find some more worms. We learned while we were reading about Robins that baby Robins need fourteen feet of worms every day. Talk about a lot of time spent on food preparation!

House Finch

House Finch just sitting pretty.

Robin Cardinal House Finch Notebook Pages

Notebook pages that we did on the three birds that we learned about: American Robin, House Finch and Cardinal. These came from Notebooking Pages and Cornell’s coloring book.

Spring is here?

I’m so ready for spring and summer. I must have cabin fever. Just two days ago we woke up to snow on the ground. Even the kids were disappointed. I woke the kids up and said, "I have a surprise for you!" JD Boy went to the window and groaned, "Oh no. Not again. I’m tired of that stuff." I asked G’tums if he wanted to go sledding and he looked up at me with a puzzled look and said, "I don’t know." We don’t get much snow where we live. So my kids are usually so excited for snow. They’ll sled on a quarter-inch of the white stuff, but not now. They’d had their fill. Me too. I’m ready for green and for flowers and all the things that make Summer so beautiful where I live.

But today was a totally different story. We were all itching to go outside today and do some exploring to see what we could find. We worked on math and some history for awhile, but outside was calling. I wanted to see if I could find the signs of Spring, like maybe some wild flowers. And when I got out there, lo and behold Spring was there to greet us. I was thrilled with the things we found.


The blackberries are starting to bud.


Moss is turning that living green color. I love it.


Spring is here and I was so excited, but my kids were on their own exploration. We started reading a book this week called: African Savanah (One Small Square). We are really enjooying this book. I highly recommend it for the K-3 age group. Even preschoolers like it–at least mine does. It’s about the habitat of the Serengeti.

Anyway, all of that to say that my kids wanted to pretend we were going exploring in Africa even though I was out searching for signs of Spring and wildflowers. They got outside before me. And when I got out there, they had a Rubbermaid container full of grass and mud and they were stomping it with a stick. When they saw my quizzical look, which meant "Why do you always want to do the messiest projects you can think of?" They said, "We are making fufu!"

I know you’re wondering, "What on earth is fufu?" Well, you see, my husband has gone on two mission trips to the interior of the Democratic Republic of Congo and he always tells about this stuff that the Africans eat called fufu. It’s made out of rehydrating dried cassava with warm water and, according to my husband, it is about the consistency of playdough. This fufu is the main staple where he visited. In fact, I have a picture.

Eating Fufu in Democratic Republic of Congo

The fufu is the stuff in the center bowl. They dip it into the sauces in the other bowls.

So making fufu is the reason that my kids had concocted such a mess. I guess that sounds a little more creative than what my brother and I always told our mom–we said we were making mud pies. My kids, at least, came up with a name on their own, instead of copying one out of a bedtime story book. And once they finished making their "fufu", they were ready for their excursion to the African Savannah!

So here they are, busy exploring the Savannah:

Pretend Savannah

Looking at grass

She’s trying to learn if our grass is the same as what grows in the Savannah.

Guess what! They even found a water hole. Oh, no! Another mess.

But I was still busy, whether I was in Africa or at home in America, trying to prove to myself that it was Spring. I thought that surely I would find some wild flowers blooming. I have seen pictures of them on the Outdoor Hour Nature Blog and I wanted to find some of my own. But hence, I think I live farther north than they do. I did find that some of the shrubs that we have planted are flowering and that the bees have discovered them. I sure hope this means that the wild flowers will show up soon.

honey bee

My search was nearly in vain. Would you believe it though, I finally found three, yes 3, wild flowers. And they were all the same kind. Here is one of them. I’ll let you identify it.


Well, I’d sure like to find some wild flowers that were a little more exotic than that. I usually call these weeds and yank them out, but since that was all I could find, I left it. Maybe I’d better go to Africa and see if they have some wild flowers for me to see.

Penguin Lapbook

We were so busy during the Children’s Bible Class that I posted about before, that we had a hard time keeping up with everything. So one morning I said to the kids, let’s do something on a preschool level that we would all enjoy. John Deere Boy came up with this idea and it was a hit–learn about Penguins. We had already seen the Easy Make & Learn: Penguin book, so I knew that there was some great printouts that we could use for a lapbook and other fun projects. So we picked up a couple of really great DVD’s and wala we had a short unit study that was stress free for mama!! Sometimes that really comes in helpful. So if you’re ever looking for a fun, short, easy unit that all ages will enjoy, this was a great one.

Penguin Lapbook

A very happy boy showing off his first lapbook! Each of the kids colored one of the penguins on the front and they plastered the lapbook with stickers. I thought that was the part my three-year-old would get into. Well, of course, he did, but so did the other two. This lapbook was actually a team effort by the three of them. He needed help so we helped him out.

Penguin Lapbook

Here are all of my kiddoes with their penguin masks and lapbook and, of course, the stuffed penguin. Now if you could just see them waddle too!

The really interesting videos that we all enjoyed about Penguins were: March of the Penguins, Nature: Waddlers & Paddlers and Life in the Freezer. All of these were very good and interesting. They appealed to all the ages in our home 3 – 32. None of them are from a Creationist perspective though, so you have to weed out some stuff. We’ve got our kids well trained at this point on that subject. Whenever they hear the words “millions” or “billions” they shout “Wrong!”

We didn’t read any books on the subject. Did I say I was busy? We watched videos and they worked on their lapbook while I made lunch. We were squeezing school in here and there!

Children's Bible Class

I said I had a lot to share, so I’d better get started. I wanted to share about our Children’s Bible class that we just finished. We had so much fun and learned a lot too….especially me, because I was the teacher! We held our meetings for 20 nights over a five week period and it was open to the public. Many of our studies were based on Bible prophecy. We, of course, were covering these not on a college level but at a primary level. The study was for children. So we studied prophecies such as the image in Daniel 2; comparing the days of Noah with our day as in Matthew 24; when Jesus returns; also some things in the past that have really changed history such as how sin entered the universe and then Adam and Eve’s first sin, and, of course, Jesus’ death (that was included in several studies) as well several more.

Our program went something like this:

We started out with a short song service. All of our songs were scripture songs. I love many different children’s songs, but I thought this was a wonderful way to help the children memorize some precious gems from their Bibles. Then we followed with our opening prayer.

After the prayer, we had a mystery box. This was one of the favorite activities. Each night we had a different object in the box that was related to our topic for the evening and then the kids were given hints as to what it was and they all tried to guess. Because we had such an age spread, and we discovered that the oldest ones were the best guessers, we had the older kids (7 years and up) whisper their answer to us and. If they were right, they were to come up with the next clue to give, that gave more people an opportunity to guess and allowed for the younger children to get it right, which really made them smile.

Next came the special feature. This also was a real highlight. Each night one of my friends presented a science nugget that could be tied in with the lesson. For instance, when we studied Revelation 1:7, she made homemade binoculars. When we studied the Three Worthies and when we studied about Mt. Carmel, she did demonstrations with fire. When we studied about Satan, she did a feature on snakes. All of them were really great. This was my favorite part, but maybe that’s because I didn’t teach that part!

Science Experiment at Children's BIble Class

Next we had our Bible lesson. I taught each lesson with felts (the Through the Bible with Felts set) I learned so much studying for teaching these lessons. If none of the children were blessed, which I hope they were, at least I was. I enjoyed it so much. I spent so much time studying and I love studying. In each lesson, I tried to bring it down to a practical level. For instance, when we did the story of Jonah, we talked about how to confess our sins as well as learning about how we will face a judgment.

Bible Lesson at Children's Bible Class

Every night we read from the Bible and we provided a Bible for each child so that they could follow along. Even the non-readers loved having us help them look up the verses in the Bible and show them where we would be reading from. They were so proud of their Bibles. The older ones had opportunity to see for themselves what the Bible had to say on the different subjects each night. Each night we tried to summarize the stories that we were learning from as a choice for the children to make. Basically the choices were to give our hearts to Jesus and be saved or not and be lost.

After the lesson was finished, we learned a new memory verse each night and then we made a craft. Our crafts (as well as many of the ideas for how we did the meetings) came from Feeding His Lambs Ministry. The kids and the parents loved these crafts. Each night a craft page was added to their growing book and the page emphasized what we had studied that evening.

Making Crafts at Children's Bible Class

I enjoyed this project so much, even though I was a bit tired a few of the evenings. We made some good friends with the kids who came (and their parents) and watching children learn about the Bible and choose Jesus for themself was so very rewarding. I hope that I will have an opportunity to this again.

Making friends at Children's Bible Class

Rufus Hummingbird

We have a little friend who has been visiting us very regularly the last few days. Actually we have two of them. They are Rufus hummingbirds. I think hummingbirds are like flying jewels. They are just so beautiful.

We have the hummingbird feeders right out our french door in the dining room, so while we eat, we are all watching to see who gets to say "I see him!" first.

Here are a couple of pictures my husband snapped of him.

  Rufus Hummingbird 04.06.09

Rufus Hummingbird 04.06.09

I guess that was a short post, but I still had to share!